Legal representatives for Alex Murdaugh, the infamous South Carolina scammer condemned for the murder of his wife and son earlier this year, submitted a plea to the South Carolina Court of Appeals on Tuesday suggesting jury manipulation by the Colleton County Clerk of Court and demanding a fresh trial.
According to the plea, Rebecca Hill, the Clerk of Court, reportedly manipulated the jury by encouraging them to disregard Murdaugh’s testimony and additional proof offered by his defense team, pressing for a speedy guilty verdict, and even distorting crucial data to the trial judge in a bid to expel a juror considered to favor the defendant’s case.
Highlighted allegations in the motion were that Hill capitalized on these actions to secure a book deal and media exposure, betraying her oath of office for material gain and fame. The legal document insisted that granting a new trial was the only response legally permissible once these alleged improprieties were proven.
Sworn affidavits, including those from a juror and a dismissed juror, were cited in the plea, alongside extracts from Hill’s publication, “Behind the Doors of Justice: The Murdaugh Murders,” released last month.
Murdaugh’s longstanding conviction for performing the murders of his spouse, Maggie, and son, Paul, at their enormous South Carolina property in June 2021 transpired roughly six months before the current plea. Following approximately three hours of consideration, the jury found him guilty of murder and weapons charges, leading to his current double life sentence. Soon after his sentencing, Murdaugh’s legal team signaled their intention to contest the conviction.
Murdaugh, previously a personal injury attorney from a lineage of local prosecutors, soared to national notice following this case. In tandem, his lawyers, Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian have appealed to the South Carolina US Attorney for potential criminal charges associated with the alleged jury manipulation.
However, the US Attorney’s office chose not to comment on the matter while South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson stated that the defense’s recent motion was undergoing review, with legal response to follow as appropriate.
At a press conference, Murdaugh’s legal representatives expressed his protest of innocence and shared his disbelief regarding the information in the appeal.
The motion makes three overarching accusations against Hill concerning the jury. The first is the inappropriate discussion of the case with the jury. The second alleges undue pressure from Hill for the jury to reach a quick verdict, even at the cost of jurors’ comfort. Lastly, the plea asserts that Hill deceived the judge with false information about a juror, leading to their removal on the trial’s final day, due to perceived favorability towards acquitting Murdaugh.
Hill’s recently released book, authored in collaboration with Neil R. Gordon, offers insider details from the trial. In it, Hill admitted longstanding professional familiarity with Murdaugh, expressing her concerns over these relationships. Nonetheless, she affirmed that such knowledge did not impact her professional duties.
During the murder trial, the case hinged on video evidence linking Murdaugh to the crime scene, contradicting his repeated denials of guilt. He confirmed, however, under oath, his dishonesty to investigators, embezzlement from past legal clients, and rampant opioid addiction causing paranoia.
Allegations against Murdaugh include defrauding his legal firm, clients, and the government of over nine million dollars leading to roughly a hundred state criminal charges. Moreover, he was indicted on a further 22 federal charges for financial schemes.
Despite the grim accusations leveled against him, in a prison call recorded in June, Murdaugh maintained his innocence, blaming his downfall on his opioid addiction and betrayal of trust, but vehemently denying any role in the violence inflicted on his wife and son.